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Brajkovic, Kangert re-sign with Astana for 2014

SAN VICENTE BARQUERA, Spain (VN) — Astana secured two important bases going forward into 2014, re-upping Janez Brajkovic and Tanel Kangert, team officials confirmed Friday.

Brajkovic, who wore the red jersey after Astana won the team time trial to open the Vuelta a España, signed a one-year contract extension. Kangert signed on for three additional seasons.

The Slovenian, ninth overall in the 2012 Tour de France, and the Estonian, who rode well in support of team captain Vincenzo Nibali in this year’s Giro d’Italia, will provide key support going into next year’s Tour.

Kangert performed at a high level during the Giro, where he was one of the top helpers for Nibali. Keeping him on the team going forward will give the Italian a strong base for future challenges.

Nibali will focus his entire season on the Tour next year, with eyes of challenging Chris Froome and Sky in July.

Astana team boss Giuseppe Martinelli told VeloNews this Vuelta is a dress rehearsal for next year’s Tour, with many of the same riders expected to line up next summer to take on Sky.

Nibali, meanwhile, said he is still fighting to win this Vuelta. It should all come down to Saturday’s climb up the Anglirú.